Burundi, whose population lives mainly in rural areas, is facing two land problems. The first is structural and due to poor land management, particularly in a context of high population growth, which generates violence and crime. The second is a legacy of the civil war that deprived hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people of their properties. Only renewed focus and fresh thinking can help prevent rural criminal violence. However, instead of meaningful reform, only a review of the land code has been implemented. The impact of the absence of a comprehensive change in land governance, especially on conflict resolution, will continue to fuel public resentment, especially for those who have been dispossessed of their properties or have limited access to land ownership. The sense of injustice and the pressing need for land will likely contribute to future conflicts unless the government adopts a new approach.
This report, the first in a two-part series, examines why reform has failed to improve land governance since the 2000 Arusha agreement. It suggests a way forward to relaunch land reform initiatives in a comprehensive and coherent manner. A second report will analyse the complex land restitution policy for refugees and displaced persons.